Steampunk inspiration and resources

Books, Graphic Novels and Adaptations

Anthology Review: Steampunk World (2014)

“Steam Speaks All Languages
Steam Knows No Boundaries
Steam Is Universal”

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I am usually more of a novel reader, but lately I’ve been both reading and writing a lot of shorter fiction. Figuring out the right amount of words to fully tell a story is both an intellectual and artistic challenge, but I believe editor Sarah Hans did a wonderful job of pulling together this anthology composed of fabulous stories. I’ve noticed a trend in the last year or two of agents and editors looking for non-Western Steampunk, and this collection was already on the shelves so kudos to all 19 authors and the publisher, Alliteration Ink. Each story is even accompanied by a beautiful black and white line drawing.

With 19 completely different tales to tell, I’m not going to even try to review everything in Steampunk World. I had hoped to dedicate a few days to it, but with Christmas right around the corner and this book so perfect for a last minute gift idea I’m just going to say that overall, I felt like this was a very strong book, both as a collection of short stories and a collection of Steampunk. It was originally funded through a Kickstarter campaign, but you can read all about the book and the authors at Alliteration Ink.

Multi-cultural Steampunk sound good to you? Check out their next collection, Steampunk Universe as well!

 


Steampunk Movie Review – The Adventurer: Curse of the Midas Box (2013)

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book-cover-midas-boxThis movie has been lurking quietly around for a few years now, but despite its impressive cast, no one seems to have heard of it. Based on Mariah Mundi: The Midas Box by G.P. Taylor, this film chronicles the plight of a pair of brothers. They know their lives aren’t ordinary, but nothing prepares them for the mysterious stranger (Michael Sheen, Underworld, Twilight Saga) who arrives bleeding, joking, and most importantly, carrying an amulet of great power. He passes it to the boys’ mother, but when the agents of power-hungry aristocrat Luger (Sam Neill, Jurassic Park) come to collect, they take Mariah’s parents and he barely escapes with his brother.

As they flee to the mean streets of London in just their pajamas, they discover they each have half of the amulet in their pockets, and a whole mess of trouble on their heals. The little brother is taken during an escape, and Mariah (Aneurin Barnard) must depend on the stranger and his plan to rescue him and keep Luger from getting his hands on the destructive power of The Midas Box.

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I enjoyed this movie, and it would be a good choice for any little Steampunks in your life, especially if you need that “family movie” for everyone to watch during down time this holiday season. The adult actors, including Leana Headey (Game of Thrones), were all spot on, and Barnard was perfect, but as is the case with many a teen/tween actor, I didn’t love all of the younger members of the cast. That being said, the settings were interesting and the story was compelling, so don’t let that stop you from checking it out, and the clothes are awesome if you like Victorian style.

 

I’ve never read the books, but now I’m curious. Has anyone read the books or seen this movie and care to share your thoughts? Feel free as always 🙂


There’s Still Time to Sign Up for the Collaborative Writing Challenge! Begins Dec. 30

I learned a lot of things from participating in this year’s NaNoWriMo- Pre-writing is a godsend, I need to stop deluding myself into thinking I can write after 5pm, and I can write over 3000 words a day for a week straight if I have to.

But I also got a real taste of how very lonely being a writer can be.

Which makes me even more excited for the novel I will be coordinating with the Collaborative Writing Challenge! This is a chance to build up a really cool community of writers that I hope will go above and beyond this individual project.

The deadline for possible first chapter submissions is today, and so far we’ve got 7 submissions. I’ll be reading those submissions and talking over the potential for growth with the rest of the CWC over the next few weeks to narrow it down to three, then it will be time for people to vote on their favorite.

Didn’t write a starter chapter? No problem! I think writing the parts in the middle are the most fun, personally, because you wield so much power over the rest of the story. I’ll be starting my try for Project, 6, Esyld’s Awakening, Chapter 16 this week. It’s been 10 chapters since I saw the story last and I am really excited to see where it has gone when I wasn’t looking. Wish me luck!

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Here’s a quick reminder of how the whole project works.

  • Writers sign up for a chapter try by December 30. (We’ve reached our minimum number of authors to get the project going, but the more the merrier!) Sign up by filling out the form here
  • 3-5 Writers attempt each chapter, one week at a time. You’d have access to the following:
    • The chapter immediately before the one you attempt
    • detailed chapter summaries of any chapter that came before
    • detailed notes about characters, places, and any special objects or magic schema that may be at work
    • prompts and questions from the coordinator to help you decide which direction to take
  • The coordinator (me!) chooses the chapter(s) that moves the story along the best (and/or is my favorite for whatever reason. Sometimes we also combine multiple chapter attempts).
  • At the end, we have a 30-chapter book with at least 30 contributing authors who all get to put another book on their resume
    • 10% of proceeds go to charity!

These pins are available through my Kickstarter campaign!

And don’t forget, if your chapter is chosen at any point during the challenge, you’ll also receive a United we Steampunk, Divided we Fall pin by yours truly.


Steampunk on Kickstarter, Nov. 2016

Publishing

The Time Traveler’s Trilogy, Ends Dec. 20

It’s 1815, and Wellington’s badly-outnumbered army stares across the field of Waterloo at Napoleon’s forces. Desperate to hold until reinforcements arrive, Wellington calls upon a race of monsters created by a mad scientist 25 years before.

It’s 1815, and a discontented young lady sitting in a rose garden receives a mysterious gift: a pocket watch that, when opened, displays scenes from all eras of history. Past…and future.

It’s 1885, and a small band of resistance fighters are resorting to increasingly extreme methods in their efforts to overthrow a steampunk Empire whose clockwork gears are slick with its subjects’ blood.

Are these events connected?

Oh, come now. That would be telling…

My favorite reward: $5 pledge and you get the first ebook in the series by January.

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Film

Outlawed Faith, Ends Dec. 16

 

GENRE: Sci-Fi/Western/Steampunk

LOGLINE: In a dystopian universe, on a dead-end back water world, an orphaned boy and his sisters, one of which is a mystic Seer, try to escape from the sway of their megalomaniac uncle by seeking out the help of a reformed gunslinger.

PLOT SUMMARY: Young Jonah’s faith carries him and his sisters, Celine, and Cora to the borderland town, Harpdale, a dusty crossroads on the edge of the galaxy, where law is what one makes it. They seek out his mother’s old friend, the infamous reformed gunslinger Kulta; but what they find is more than what anyone bargains for. Outlawed Faith is a science fiction action adventure which brings forward a strongly charismatic, but unlikely and reluctant, hero to the rescue of innocence in danger. The story brings together a mashup of genres (Steampunk/Western) creating a perfect blend for adventure.

My favorite reward: $10 pledge gets you a download of the short, plus a download of the finished full film

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Gaming

Concept Crowd Gear, Ends Dec. 4 

The Game: 

The game will have a steampunk anime type stylized aesthetics. An unknown force brings magic to the equation, causing inexplicable phenomenon such as strange monsters and weird climatic changes that alter the setting and increase the conflict.

As the game grows, the core platform supporting the game will add new weapons, terrains, bosses, creatures, or mechanics. This allows for more repeat playing of the game.

The Process:  

Rewards for support include participation in the concepts section, voting rights during development, and credit for any contributions that are used in the game. Whether backers have a passion for drawing, modeling, or just have great ideas for the videogame, access to the forums is gained based on backing.

My favorite reward: a $10 pledge allows you to be a part of the design process and give feedback

Find out more

 

Steam Hammer, ends Dec. 15

Steam Hammer is the first hardcore sandbox-style RPG set in a dark and mysterious steampunk world. Experience the intensity as you try to survive on the mysterious Acribo Islands.

Steam Hammer features:

• a classic Victorian steampunk setting with wondrous mechanisms, machinery, weapons, armor, clothing, and—of course—steam and smoke.

• an open-class system that frees you from arbitrary constraints. Engineer, scientist, farmer, gunsmith, stormtrooper, sharpshooter, and more can all be combined and switched depending on your skill set.

• a huge open world for you to explore, travel, and terraform. Go where you will and master the land.

 Craft your Glory. Craft your Victory. Craft your Steam Hammer!

My favorite reward: $25 pledge gets you the full game and your name in the credits

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Pirates: Age of Gravitum, Ends Dec. 22 

In Pirates : Age of Gravitium, you play as a pirate captain looking for a solution to the upcoming threat of the India Company. Whether you want to become famous, rich enough or well prepared to fight is for you to decide. To help you during your journey, you can recruit a large variety of fellow pirates. You can also grow your headquarter to unlock new skills, accept missions for other factions or simply explore the world in search for treasures or easy targets to rob. But be careful ! You are not alone, and the other factions – the British, the French, the Dutch, the Spanish and the other Pirates – will make sure you pay for your crimes.

Sea itself is treacherous if you travel for too long, as the moral of your crew, like the hull of your ship, is far from being unbreakable.

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My favorite reward: 18 euros and you get the game, a chance to answer polls during development, and your name in the credits

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An Interview with Steampunk Author Daniel Ottalini and his Newest Release

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My husband is a Roman historian and I’m a Steampunk nut (in case you hadn’t noticed), so you can imagine my joy when I found a mash-up of the two! In a nutshell, his books are about an alternative history where Caesar survived the assassination attempt and changed the face of the world. I’ve started reading his Steam Empire Chronicles books recently, so you can expect a review in the future, but I got a chance to do an interview exchange with him as a fellow NaNoWriMo 2016 writer. When you’re done reading, head on over to his website to read and interview with me!

What project are you working on now?

I’m actually working on two projects at the moment. First, my novel Steel Praetorian is available for presale and I’m working on a blog tour and blog-a-thon this month as part of that release on December 1st. Writing wise, as part of NaNoWriMo2016, I’m working on Laurel Emperor, the fifth and final novel in the Steam Empire Chronicles series. It’s been an amazing journey going from zero to now six published books, and I can’t wait to share this one with everyone!

What book(s) are you reading now?
Right now I’m rereading the Belisarius series by David Drake and Eric Flint – One of my favorite Roman/sci-fi/historical style mash ups (yes, I know, it’s very ‘duh, that’s what you write too.’ but it’s truly a lot of fun to read.)

What is the most important component of steampunk to you? Why?
I think the most important part of steampunk is the conflict between groups – rich vs poor, union vs management, men vs women (gender roles, etc) imperial vs rebel. It’s funny because, normally, I’m a huge fan of the underdog, the scrappy rebels striving for a better…whatever. But in my own novels, the protagonists are the loyalists, who have an uphill climb against the rebels. Sometime in steampunk, its not about improving the technology, but about mastering what you have.

What part of the craft are you working on now (Like what part of writing do you need to spend more time working/learning about?)
I’m still working on breathing life into my characters in less obvious event-focused manner. In other words, building their character traits from the ground up. I’m actually planning on going back to my first novel and doing a serious upgrade in order to make those characters more believable and to improve the writing!

What three things are essential to your writing routine?
Silence.
Internet.
An outline – I’ve been using google docs to create a living outline. Before this I used a journal, and I’m a much faster typer than a writer. Plus I can access the same document everywhere, even share it with beta readers before I type the entire novel. Makes a lot of work much easier.

If you could cosplay any character from classic Sci-fi or Steampunk, what would you choose?
Wow, tough question – Character wise I’d probably want to go as Luke Skywalker from Star Wars, although in honesty I’d rather go as a rebel trooper of some sort – gotta love the dome helmets or the Hoth cold weather gear!

Do you have a favorite Steampunk-related memory?
Actually it was a video game – Rise of Legends for PC – A spin off of the Rise of Nations, itself a great game, truly inspired me as a young teenager. I loved how the background was an intersection of magic, mysticism, and giant smoke belching constructs. One of their units even inspired me in my own writing over 10 years later – the giant spider like trash hauler was definitely based on that idea.

If you could suddenly master any skill, what would you choose?
Oh wow, I think it’d have to be another language – I’d want to be perfectly able to read, write, and speak Spanish at all levels – this would be useful in my day job and in my writing career – multiple translations of my book for free/cheap? Here I come!.

Thanks Daniel!

You can find out more about him and his books (plus an interview with me tomorrow!) at his website, and don’t forget to pre-order your copy of The Steel Praetorian.


Steampunk Book Review: Master of the World (1904)

master-of-the-worldI’m still slowly working my way through the classic science fiction works, but I recently found this short little book in a used book store and added it to the old “to be read” pile. After reading some other works of Verne I was, shall we say, underwhelmed by this much-lauded author, in a large part because they seemed to go on interminably. I’d hoped that Master of None would appeal to me more because it is so much shorter than 20,000 Leagues Under the Sea, but alas, it left me wanting more, and not in a good way.

In brief, it is the story of a strange vehicle and its many sightings. Somehow, people report seeing something that moves faster than any known machine, and they see it on land, sea, and the air.

I didn’t know until after I had finished it that this was in fact a sequel to a 1886 release entitled Robur the Conqueror, and perhaps if I had read the first book I’d have liked Master of the World more, but honestly, I doubt it. I don’t know if it is just a matter of translation and the higher frequency of the passive voice in French, or if it is a failure of my modern sensibility to be tickled by this old style of writing, but as a story described on the cover as a suspense/thriller I found it rather dull and predictable. I know the mad scientist bent on using his genius to bully mankind into betterment for no particular reason was still pretty new in Verne’s day, but he’d already been-there, done-that 30 years earlier with his most famous character, Captain Nemo.

On top of that, the was ending struck me as both abrupt and bizarre, and the whole tone of the story felt melancholy and hopeless about the future of humankind. One critic I read speculated that this was due to Verne’s failing health and dour disposition in his twilight years, but whatever the reason I wouldn’t say I’d recommend this one.


Collaborative Steampunk Novel Update and a Few Thoughts about NaNoWriMo

Collaborative Steampunk Novel Update

When I announced that I would be coordinating Project 7 for the Collaborative Writing Challenge starting in Dec. I admit I was a little worried about recruiting people. Steampunk has become a lot better known in recent years, but there are still plenty of people who don’t really know what’s it about, or at least aren’t comfortable enough with the genre to feel like they can contribute.

On the one hand, I complete understand and obviously I’m not going to push and say someone should do it if it doesn’t interest them. On the other hand, I see Steampunk as less of a genre with distinct borders and rules, and more of an overlay that can be added to a mystery, romance, or any other sort of story.

It looks like there are a lot of people who feel the same way! 70 slots have been filled so far by 30 writers, and there’s still over a month before the project begins. Each project has a minimum of three authors in each slot, and up to five, so there is plenty of space if you haven’t signed up yet. Just don’t wait too long!

Remember, the project starts in December but runs until August, so even the prospect of starting a project after the bustle of the impending holidays has you seriously considering if a string of lights is sturdy enough to hang a person by, just keep in mind you could sign up for a chapter way out in March when you’ll just be twiddling your thumbs.

NaNoWriMo Update

A typical science fiction or fantasy novel for adults comes in around 100k words (~350 pages depending on the size of the book). YA books tend to be closer to 70k, but even that word count is higher than the goal for the National Novel Writing Month of 50k. So why the discrepancy?

Writing a book is at least 80% revising.

Let’s face it, the first pass is going to be bad. Some people’s bad is a lot worse than others, but generally speaking there are going to be plenty of issues to fix on even the structural level, not to mention at the specific word choice level. Personally, I am finding it incredibly difficult *not* to be doing revisions as I go, which has been my pattern in the past. I know that what I wrote yesterday is rubbish and I want to make it at least refined enough to be just regular or old ‘bad’ before I move on, but that won’t help me reach my word count goal. Grrrrr.

revising-memeSo rather than be annoyed, I decided to change my mindset and embrace the utter craptitude of the firstest, roughest draft. I am writing whole scenes of dialog with just the words the characters say but with no dialog or action tags. I am leaving myself notes and giving myself permission to move on from problem passages to press on to things I know for sure. And I am not reading over things I wrote a week ago and painstakingly looking to see if I used “she” to begin too many sentence. (Though old habits die hard and I know many would already say I pay way too much attention to that sort of thing when I should just be writing.)

I am also doing a ton of pre-writing exercises to help me get really focused when it comes time to sit down and write. Pre-writing can mean anything from answering character and world-building questionnaires to writing a summary of what you want to accomplish in a chapter. But before I could wrap my head around that level of detail I made a spreadsheet with a separate page for each of the 6 parts of my story that I used to outline down to the scene level and projected word count.

I’m about 1/3 of the way into this whole NaNo experiment, and I’ve written 14,369 words on Mistress of None so far this month, bringing the total words for Part 1 to over 25,000. This has been a very different way to approaching novel writing and I can’t say I like everything about it. On the other hand, I have also gained some invaluable new methods and most importantly, the confidence I’ve gained in myself.

All writers go through times where they feel like poseurs or like they can’t possibly succeed, and I was having one those dark periods in August after the dour advice and attitudes of the folks at the Writer’s Symposium at Gen Con. Now, I feel like I’ve proven to myself that I have the drive and the tools to make a real go of this.

Now I’ve just got to convince the rest of the world…

 

 


Steampunk Crowdfunding: Oct. 2016 Edition

Publishing

Children of Sin Manga, Ends Nov. 4

It is a time of darkness where clockwork powers the world. Evil permeates society causing great mayhem, and man’s morals are questioned. Kain, tortured by his past sins, seeks to earn redemption by saving mankind. But can he, whom the gods no longer praise, redeem himself?

The Seven Deadly Sins have taken corporeal form in our world:

  • Pride is an orphan, who along with his brother, got adopted by a high class assassin.
  • Envy is a rich girl who was shipped off to dancing school.
  • Greed was a street urchin who had to become a thief to survive.
  • Wrath worked at a steel plant that made the cogs that turn the town.
  • Lust is a high class French stripper who seems to be in the wrong place at the right time…. all of the time.
  • Gluttony is a baker from the Netherlands who takes a bite out of his problems.
  • Sloth is an ex-opium addict and just so happens to be Greed’s older sister.

Then there is Depression who has lived her whole life in a cemetery.

Kain, the last piece of the puzzle, runs away after betraying his students. Now that he has escaped the Darkness’ great hold on him, he looks to reverse all the evil that he and his followers have caused. Azrael, his mysterious butler and bodyguard, is put into his service to help control the chaos, but he has an agenda of his own.

My Favorite Reward: $10 to get a PDF of the finished book.

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Steampunk Universe: A diverse steampunk anthology featuring aneurotypical and disabled characters ends Nov. 6.

coverWe keep getting told that steampunk is not diverse. We want to keep proving them wrong.

Two and a half years ago, we brought you the award-winning anthology Steampunk World, a diverse collection of steampunk fiction. Since then, there have been a number of other prominent anthologies and works of diverse steampunk fiction. That is exactly what we hoped would happen.

But it is not enough.

We want to see even more diversity. We want to see characters like all our friends and all the members of our families. We want fully developed characters in steampunk – and all fiction – who are disabled or aneurotypical. We want more than “token” characters, and clichéd plots.

We were told it was too hard – especially in a genre like steampunk.

We are going to prove them wrong again…and we want you to join us.

My Favorite Reward: $20 pledge gets you a printed copy the anthology, plus digital copies across multiple platforms and a bonus short story anthology by my friend Andrew Knighton.

Find out more

 

Victorian Bareknuckle League, Ends Nov. 24

victorian-bareknuckleVictorian Bareknuckle League is a steampunk tale of bloody knuckles and high crime set in a fantasy era Victorian London. Young Millicent Figg witnesses the brutal murder of her lover at a bareknuckle bout and sets out for revenge. Aided by the world’s greatest detective she attempts to find those responsible before she becomes as violent and ruthless as those she is fighting against…

Men, women, children. Gin soaked thieves and claret swilling aristocrats. Slaves and kings. Weathered fishermen, navvies carved from the earth by hardship and toil. The bold, the beautiful, the circus freaks, the forgotten urchins and street dwellers. Gypsies, brothel madams, conjurers and illusionists. The occultists and the strange. Con men and piss artists. Pearly kings and queens. Chinese and Jewish immigrants. The Irish, Scottish, Londoners, Yorkshiremen. The clergy, the revolutionaries. All come looking for death, glory and redemption in the Victorian Bareknuckle League.

My Favorite Reward: 4 GBP gets you a digital copy of the 20-page, fully illustrated book.

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Film

Cyan Eyed, Ends Nov. 4

Watch the video: https://www.kickstarter.com/projects/njen/cyan-eyed-an-animated-steampunk-adventure/widget/video.html

It was in the first quarter of 2013, as production of my animated short film, The Rose of Turaida, was coming to an end, I was deciding what to do next. I then though about wanting to do something exciting with lot’s of energy, something that looks really cool. Cyan Eyed is a swashbuckling steampunk adventure that focuses on a rescue attempt, using visually spectacular action sequences. The title of Cyan Eyed is in fact an anagram of ‘eye candy’, and that is exactly what we are making: an awesome looking film that will leave a memorable lasting impression.

Concept art for the location Crystal Rock Landing
Concept art for the location Crystal Rock Landing

My Favorite Reward: 10 AUD (about $8) get the digital download of the film plus the rewards at lower tiers like a digital wallpaper.

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